1st Edition

Mountain Aesthetics in Early Modern Latin Literature

ISBN 9780367346805
Published May 21, 2019 by Routledge
254 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

USD $49.95

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Book Description

In the late Renaissance and Early Modern period, man’s relationship to nature changed dramatically. An important part of this change occurred in the way that beauty was perceived in the natural world and in the particular features which became privileged objects of aesthetic gratification. This study explores the shift in aesthetic attitude towards the mountain that took place between 1450 and 1750. Over the course of these 300 years the mountain transformed from a fearful and ugly place to one of beauty and splendor. Accepted scholarly opinion claims that this change took place in the vernacular literature of the early and mid-18th century. Based on previously unknown and unstudied material, this volume now contends that it took place earlier in the Latin literature of the late Renaissance and Early Modern period. The aesthetic attitude shift towards the mountain had its catalysts in two broad spheres: the development of an idea of ‘landscape’ in the geographical and artistic traditions of the 16th century on the one hand, and the increasing amount of scientific and theological investigation dedicated to the mountain on the other, reaching a pinnacle in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The new Latin evidence for the change in aesthetic attitude towards the mountain unearthed in the course of this study brings material to light which is relevant for the current philosophical debate in environmental aesthetics. The book’s concluding chapter shows how understanding the processes that produced the late Renaissance and Early Modern shift in aesthetic attitude towards the mountain can reveal important information about the modern aesthetic appreciation of nature. Alongside a standard bibliography of primary literature, this volume also offers an extended annotated bibliography of further Latin texts on the mountains from the Renaissance and Early Modern period. This critical bibliography is the first of its kind and constitutes an essential tool for further study in the field.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Abbreviations


Note on Neo-Latin Texts


1. The Mountain in Latin: Literary Heritage

Josias Simmler’s De Alpibus Commentarius (1574)

The Mountain in Classical Literature

The Mountain in Classical Literature: Concluding Remarks

The Mountains of the Bible

The Mountains of the Bible: Concluding Remarks

2. Gaeographia, Prospectus, Pictura

Gessner Frames the Mountain

The Mountain in Chorography

Geography’s Rebirth in Germania

Prospectus and the Mountain in Text

Early Landscape Art and the Mountain

Latin and the Rise of the Landscape Genre

Geography and Landscape Art come together

Pliny Concludes: A View from Tuscany

3. Theologia et Philosophia Naturalis

The Disciplines and their Relationship

Natural Philosophy, Mountains of the Mind and Aesthetics

The Mountains and their Origins—l’état de question in 1561

Mountains in Genesis and Berhardus Varenius

A Smooth Primaeval Earth—Josephus Blancanus

Aesthetics of Nature in Theology: Commentaries on Genesis

The ‘Burnet Controversy’ and Mountain Aesthetics in Natural Philosophy

The ‘World Makers’, John Woodward and Dissertationes de Montibus

Scheuchzer’s Itinera Alpina and the Changed Mountain Aesthetic

4. Aesthetics of Nature: The Case of the Mountain Mentality Change

The Appreciation of Nature in Modern Philosophical Aesthetics—An Overview

Current Positions in the Aesthetics of Nature

The Natural Environmental Model

The Case of the Mountain Mentality Change

Methodological Considerations

Theism and Positive Aesthetics

The Role of Natural Science in Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature

Landscape and the Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature

Steno and Leonardo: the Tuscan Hills



Annotated Bibliography


Annotated List



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William M. Barton is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies, Austria.